Meet the women with a passion for cycling

Birmingham-based photographer Alison Baskerville has been documenting the experiences of women and non-binary people with a passion for cycling.

“I wanted to create a piece of work which expresses how the range of cycling we access is so diverse – from those who cycle around a park to those who aspire to be part of cycling clubs and compete,” she says.

“Cycling is so much more than just exercise, there is an element of freedom when riding a bike.”

Louise

Louise says: “My bike was garage-bound for about seven years after I graduated from university in Bournemouth.

“I swapped studying and everyday cycling adventures with job hunting and long public transport commutes into Birmingham.

“After such a long hiatus, deciding to get back on my bike has been a liberating and scary step, particularly as I was intimidated by the pace of the city streets and the physique, gear and demographic of what I perceived a ‘cyclist’ to be.”

Haseena

Saheli Hub has taught more than 1,000 women to cycle, in free female-only lessons in three parks, in partnership with The Active Wellbeing Society, Big Birmingham Bikes, Cycling UK and Active Parks.

Haseena Akhtar says: “Being on my bike brings back teenage memories of cycling to work, travelling along a canal-side with my best friend.

“It was my form of independence before I started to drive.

“I got back into cycling after a long time and realised how much I missed the wind in my hijab, and the burning sensation of muscle fatigue.”


Roz

Roz McGuigan says: “I have no recollection of learning to ride a bike.

“Bikes have always been in my life, from a young age cycling with my parents to being a mum taking out my own children.

“In 2012, I was offered the opportunity to train as a Cytech [training and accreditation scheme for bicycle technicians] mechanic.

“Funding came as part of the [London] Olympic legacy and British Cycling was trying to get more women involved.

“As I’ve always fixed my own bikes, I felt confident to sign up.”

Pauline

Pauline Roche says: “I grew up in a village in the west of Ireland and there were very few options for transport.

“I got the bus but they might only run twice a day, if we were lucky.

“When I got my first job in Galway, I bought a 10-speed racer and I loved it. It was purple. I was 22 then and had just moved out of my parents’ home. I went everywhere on my bike – it was such freedom.

“In 1984, I moved to Birmingham and the roads seemed more dangerous here, so I decided not to cycle.

“On the 15 March 1988, I was run over by a bus in Kings Heath. I had multiple fractures on my ankle, knee and elbow. I spent three months in hospital having operations and getting skin grafts.

“Only one leg is damaged. I just learned to kind of live with it. I don’t talk about it. I’m a very optimistic person. I just try and enjoy everything and do as much as I can.

“I can only cycle using one leg at the moment, so my bike has not had the most use.

“I love being in the open air. Being on a bike you’re getting somewhere and you’re doing something like shopping, going to work, school, friend’s, parties – cycling for me is freedom.”

Danni

Danni Ebanks-Ingram who identifies as non-binary says: “My dad bought me my first bike after seeing my friend and I swap turns on theirs each weekend.

“I never had stabilisers, which meant I had my fair share of cut knees and sprained ankles, but more than anything I had fun.

“Cycling really reminds me of being a kid on my nan and granddad’s road, going up and down with my friends, going down to the park, to shop for sweets and having what felt like this never-ending freedom.

“There’s a hill that joins my nan and granddad’s road to my dad’s.

“That hill made me love cycling – a little pedalling, then momentum.”

Immy

Immy Kaur says: “The last time I rode my bike was when I was a teenager, my friend Andy got me into riding.

“I naively signed up to my first 100-miler on the first Velo Birmingham event and so began the journey.

“Since then, I’ve cycled thousands of miles, sold my car and got all the kids in my family cycling. I genuinely love it.

“It has been transformative for my physical and mental health. Ultimately, for me, it’s about cleaner air, reclaiming the space private use cars have stolen and lots of coffee, cake and new friends.”

All Photographs copyright Alison Baskerville

First published on BBC News, In Pictures.

30th September 2019  |  Adeel Khan